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Mostly Transcriptions / Tien Hsieh

Bach / Busoni / Schubert / Liszt / Hsieh
Release Date: 11/09/2010 
Label:  Titanic   Catalog #: 273  
Composer:  Johann Sebastian BachFranz LisztGlen B. Cortese
Performer:  Tien Hsieh
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

"Her high-Romanticism approach works wondrously well in much of the chosen selections...Note, too, that the total timing of 77:15 is uncommonly generous. The disc is warmly recommended."

The two exceptions to this “Mostly Transcriptions” CD are the “Venezia e Napoli” triptych from Liszt’s Second Book “Italie” of his work Annes de Pelerinage (Years of Pilgrimage), and Glen Cortese’s Elegy, composed in 2008. Along with the Bach-Busoni, both were handsomely played at Ms. Hsieh’s Weill Hall recital in May 2008 (which I had the pleasure of reviewing in Volume 15 No. 3 of this journal). When I heard the Cortese at its World Premiere, I expressed a desire to rehear the composition. On closer scrutiny, the Elegy is
Read more indeed attractive–in a style rather reminiscent of Copland’s vintage period (e.g. “Appalachian Spring”).

I was hoping that Ms. Hsieh would have likewise recorded the rarely encountered and atypically self-effacing Liszt piano transcription of Beethoven’s song cycle “An die Ferne Geliebte”, and perhaps she will on her next CD. But ‘faute de mieux’, I am very pleased that she has returned with her impressively exciting accounts of the Bach-Busoni and also the Bach-Liszt Fantasy and Fugue in G Minor, and the Schumann-Liszt “Widmung” (which was likewise an encore at the end of the 2008 Weill Hall concert). I still retain in my mind’s ear beautiful performances of Beethoven’s Op. 111 and Schumann’s “Humoresque” at that recital.

In commenting upon this recorded anthology, I can reiterate that Tien Hsieh is a formidable virtuoso and also a magnetic musical persona. Her bio says she was born in Taiwan and that she studied with her mother, Sylvia Hsieh (a renowned pedagogue in her own right), and with Dr. Marc Silverman at the Manhattan School of Music (her other mentors were Abbey Simon, Ruth Tomfohrde, Jane Allen and Carol Tafoya). In terms of color, texture and concentration on detail, she immediately makes you sit up and take notice! The opening measures of the Bach-Busoni Toccata, slashing and sparely pedaled, along with the arranger’s clever “Busonifications”, recreate the facsimile of the original organ, with its characteristic squeal and visceral intensity. (I might add that the state-of-the-art fidelity of the recording further enhances the physical allure of this thrusting and appropriate interpretation). (Note too, Ms. Hsieh’s precise articulation of the Fugue).

Her high-Romanticism approach works wondrously well in much of the chosen selections, although just two of the compositions of the “Mostly Transcriptions” roster may be a little ‘too much’: The Liszt version of “Der Muller und der Bach” seems a trifle fussy, with the melodic line overstretched, and Ms. Hsieh, in my opinion, allows the accompaniment roulades to be a distraction away from the gravitas, and at the expense of ongoing simplicity. (There is a remarkable recording on Vista Vera by the Soviet pianist Rosa Tamarkina, (1920-1950), who died tragically from cancer at the age of 30). Likewise, the Van Cliburn RCA recording of his signature piece, the Schumann-Liszt “Widmung”, also strikes this writer as more ongoing and less finicky than Ms. Hsieh’s.

Liszt’s “Venezia e Napoli” is, to be sure, an intriguing contrast to Jerome Lowenthal’s just released version, Bridge 9307, of the complete “Annees de Pelerinage”, and Lowenthal’s tautly structural interpretation. Lowenthal, who studied with the late William Kapell, makes a wonderful contrast with Ms. Hsieh’s slower, more ruminative take on the pieces. Both extremes make cogent good sense as unquestionably ‘idiomatic’.

All of the remaining items are, in their various ways, miraculously and convincingly recreated. Note, too, that the total timing of 77:15 is uncommonly generous. The disc is warmly recommended.

- Harris Goldsmith, New York Concert Review; New York, NY

Pianist Tien Hsieh is a prizewinner of competitions including the Los Angles International Liszt Competition, Artists International Presentations Auditions in New York, Pacific Piano Competition and Festival in California, Tien Hsieh is also a recipient of the prestigious Roy M. Rubinstein Award from the Manhattan School of Music and a recipient of the Li-Ching Cultural and Educational Foundation Grant representing cross-cultural exchange.
Following the success of her New York Recital Debut at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall, she has appeared in recitals for festivals, colleges and universities, cultural and art centers across the U.S., as well as in Germany, China, and most recently, in Budapest, Hungary, where she performed an All-Liszt program at the Liszt Museum (Old Liszt Academy). Recent orchestral collaborations include soloist with Maestro Gary Sheldon and Spokane Symphony and Maestro Frank Fetta and Redlands Symphony. She has also performed with Houston Civic Symphony, Gold Country Chamber Orchestra and Sacramento Ballet.
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Works on This Recording

Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major, BWV 564 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Tien Hsieh (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1717; ?Weimar, Germany 
Notes: Transcribed for piano by Ferruccio Busoni. 
Der Müller und der Bach (Schubert) for Piano, S 565 no 2 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Tien Hsieh (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1846; Hungary 
Polish Songs (6) for Piano (Chopin), S 480: no 5, My darling by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Tien Hsieh (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847-1860; Weimar, Germany 
Fantasy and Fugue of JS Bach in G minor (BWV 542) for Piano, S 463 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Tien Hsieh (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1863 
Widmung (Schumann) for Piano, S 566 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Tien Hsieh (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1848; Weimar, Germany 
Elegy by Glen B. Cortese
Performer:  Tien Hsieh (Piano)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: USA 
Frühlingsnacht (Schumann) for Piano, S 568 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Tien Hsieh (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1872; Weimar, Germany 
Am Tage aller Seelen (Schubert) for Piano, S 562 no 1 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Tien Hsieh (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Paris, France 
Venezia e Napoli, S 162 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Tien Hsieh (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; Weimar, Germany 
1, Gondoliera
2. Canzone
3. Tarantella

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